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Electric Fetus benefit pulls together diverse lineup at First Ave

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It was hard not to feel a little giddy walking around First Avenue on Friday night, as there seemed to be a familiar face waiting around every corner. In my first lap around the floor of the Mainroom, I stumbled across Slug chatting with Electric Fetus store manager Bob Fuchs, spotted half of the Current's staff mingling in the crowd, and reconnected with a few old Fetus co-workers and store regulars -- and that was only within the first 10 minutes of stepping in the door of the sold-out club.

Since I was also DJing at the benefit, I ended up missing the first couple of bands on the bill in order to plan out my set with my cohorts, Solid Gold, and everyone I talked to made sure to rub in the fact that I had missed at least two incredible, earth-shattering developments: Peter Wolf Crier (with Jeremy Hanson sitting in for drummer Brian Moen) closed their set with a cover of the Beatles' "Helter Skelter," and Cloud Cult re-emerged after a brief hiatus to play an early, energetic set to an already full house.

But there was still plenty left to see, with 10 bands scheduled to play and the set times split between the Mainroom and the 7th St. Entry. Backed by a full band, Roma di Luna showed off a new sound as the normally coy Channy Moon Casselle belted out her vocal melodies with a chilling passion, while Jeremy Messersmith traded in his acoustic guitar for an shiny Hofner bass and debuted a new set of bouncing, Beatlesy tunes.

Caroline Smith drew such a crowd to the Entry that it quickly filled to capacity, locking many out of the smaller room, while fellow local critics Chris Riemenschneider (Star Tribune) and Ross Raihala (Pioneer Press) spun eclectic mixes of between-set music in the Mainroom. The music reached its most divergent points toward the end of the night, as old-school country band Trailer Trash played a long set of honky-tonk tunes, and the last parts of the dwindling crowd that stuck around until the end were treated to a set by live hip-hop group Unknown Prophets, who recently added in electric guitar to their developing sound.

By the end of the night, the sold-out show reportedly raised tens of thousands for the local record store, which suffered extensive damage last summer when it was hit by a tornado. The store also donated part of its proceeds ($1 from each ticket) to the relief efforts in Haiti.